Integration

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog, so here is a short personal recap before I delve into where I see my integrative client sessions going, and why they’re important for this time we find ourselves in. I do so, as I want to explore how my journeys have influenced why I see there is an important and growing need to merge our spiritual explorations with grounded, practical lifestyle practices that keep us engaged with the world around us, both to the people in our communities and to the very places where we live. So here we go!

Life Updates

I’m briefly touching on 2018, as this was when I experienced an explosion of spiritual activity, as you can see through that year’s continuous posts- I was very committed to my weekly blog. It was the time period that initiated Community Healing Nights, regular Healer’s Retreats, robust client sessions and was the start of my Master’s Program at Portland State University. I also worked for a learning garden and was simultaneously doing event planning for them. It was a really magical time, and I think I really prioritized the spiritual aspect of my life over all else. It felt important, and I think I would be accurate in saying all involved in many of those activities felt like we were participating in something truly revolutionary.

That time of magic winded down though and stopped me short when I encountered immense pain of the heart. And thus, the second half of 2019 propelled me to make a big move. During this time I continued my education around cross-cultural communication, service-learning, group facilitation (primarily with young adults) and fostered even greater personal independence through travel while working and living in Costa Rica (Awkward Learning, Independence Day, Adventures in Work Exchange: Hostel Life Part 1, Adventures in Work Exchange: Hostel Life Part 2). Thereafter, I set off for a few months to backpack Europe, was a roadie for my friends’ band (Check out Fox and Bones!), and checked off an important bucket list item of taking a pilgrimage on El Camino de Santiago (Sell Everything. Write a Book). And I started writing my first book while living on a small farm just West of Madrid caring for a Donkey and some dogs. It was a time of deep personal reflection and personal growth.

This past year of 2020 was packed full of even greater learning. The first half of 2020 had deep themes in event production, community building, a continuation of my one-on-one Integrative Soul Sessions and Tarot readings, and both celebratory and sobering experiences community building. When I transitioned back here to Portland just before we started the new year, I hit the ground running events with my nonprofit Conscious Growth and building community through my own personal events and others in collaboration with Oasis of Change. Through all that time, I didn’t publish much in the way of my blogs, but instead briefly started a Youtube channel (Drake Nyx Vision), put my time into recording guided meditations and then became immersed in writing and completing my Master’s Comps (thesis equivalent) on Ecovillages as Incubators for Future Societal Design. Then I moved into a school bus and began the journey of living with less (or, really continuing that journey) while learning about community living on a farm, where I gained a ton of insight about what works in collaborative and diverse design processes and what doesn’t. After that, Conscious Growth moved into our first community space just recently, where I am currently residing at E.A.R.T.H. Space PDX in SE Portland. I’m also officially graduating with my Master’s this month in Leadership for Sustainability Education.

So I’ve been busy, despite a pandemic and the much needed social upheavals that have pushed us to think more critically about social, economic, environmental and political systems and the many failures of our society at large. It’s messy out there, but the status quo we’ve been trudging through all these years has needed a serious overhaul. Not to be a downer, but I don’t see it stopping either. How this will play out, who knows! What I do know though is that there is a pretty great template we can refer to that can aid us in staying on track through this time period in order to further develop holistic and meaningful lives.

Beyond Spirituality

The moments in life when we are most uncomfortable, or out of our accustomed comfort zone, are the moments best prepared to serve us a steamy plate of juicy growth. With all of the changes we are experiencing on a collective level, most of us are probably hanging out somewhere just outside of our comfort zone (and even beyond! If you’re in your fear zone and are really at your wit’s edge, please get in touch! You are not alone). From a social permaculture perspective, we might refer to these moments as our edges, or our growth zone. From an ecological perspective, we can see this as the place where two separate ecosystems meet and exchange information, resources and important stimuli for evolutionary opportunity (really loving Looby Macnamara’s book People and Permaculture if you’re interested in diving in more with this idea*). These are the places where we step just outside of our normal perception and understanding of what we think is real and valid, in order to strike out into the sticky, unknown territory where our life begins to intersect with the convoluted dynamic of greater existence.

As I’ve described at length in previous blog posts over the years (for instance Navigating Inner Landscapes), we ourselves are each a dynamic ecosystem. Our internal worlds are full of peaks and valleys, with immense ideas and beliefs growing wild in midst of long standing memories and informative (for better or for worse) experiences. Unruly and unkept at times, these places within often grow with reckless abandon, showing up as unconscious behavioral patterns and communication styles. With increased awareness developed over time through our dedicated personal practices, we consciously begin to understand the dense layers that make up “I,” “me,” or “self.” In unraveling these shadows, or the places within we have yet to fully unpack and develop clarity, we begin to discover something truly magical and full of potent possibility.

Which is why spirituality and the search for the sacred is awesome. There’s a whole lot packed into this subject, but I’ve talked about all of that at length (again, scroll through previous posts, or maybe go check out Shining Through Uncertainty or Blasting off into Growth). What I’m really wanting to get at today is the need for a more realistic integration of all of that whimsy and magical self improvement blah blah. I love it, it’s paramount to the work I do, but it’s insignificant without considering the greater paradigm of being a physical human being on plant earth. Yes, we’re spiritual beings. But what makes us human is that we’re here living in a very tangible shared reality that requires our participation in systems that most of us are longing to escape from.

It’s the reason why we feed into conspiracy theories and get lost in the plethora of entertainment out there. Most of us are not happy with the shared reality we are currently participating in. We seek meaning and magic and alternative timelines because we can’t bare to accept that what is right in front of us is real. That’s why religion promises us a better reality once this one is over, and new age spirituality beckons us forward into escapist agendas of love and light that bypasses the world we currently see around us. I get it. This planet is a rough ass time and it only seems to be devolving with increasing speed. It’s the hope and faith in these different kinds of tomorrows that keeps us going. That hope for a new tomorrow can be real though, if we’re critical with ourselves and where and in whom we place our faith. A different kind of future is very possible, but we need all hands on deck in order to get there.

Integrative Perspective

“Seeds of Faith,” by Renee Dumont

Recently I’ve been reflecting a lot about what exactly integrative lifestyle development looks like. I have been offering Integrative Soul Sessions for a couple of years now, and for anyone who has been through a session with me, you know this is some magical intensive therapy, as what I offer is quite unique. In these sessions we dive deep into the personal and thoroughly explore the soul/spirit/inner child/teenager/parent/warrior/healer/leader/teacher, etc. As we work to understand the many layers of who you are and who you’re becoming, I also weave in themes that aim to strengthen your relationship to the earth, while supporting clients in understanding personal patterns in communication and how you participate with others. In doing so, we are hitting on what I refer to as the important human trifecta of wholeness.

This trinity was initially introduced to me in 2013, when it was first brought to my awareness by author and teacher Satish Kumar in Soil, Soul and Society: A New Trinity for Our Time*. In this idea, we move beyond the new agey “mind, body and soul,” although this is still covered in our exploration and development of the personal, and expand our pursuits to also include a deep relationship with the earth (also known as deep ecology), as we simultaneously build our capacity to be in and serve community.

What this looks like is going to be different for everyone, as it should be. We each hold different pieces to the puzzle, and frankly most of us can’t really agree on the right direction anyway. Yet, I urge you to consider what it looks like to actively develop a holistic perspective of how the world works. Our personal life, the environment and our society are all aspects of the same greater overarching system. One can’t exist without the other, but each can benefit or be negatively impacted by the amount of awareness and participation (or lack there of) we bring to each category. You might be one person, but you’re a significant piece in the cog of this machine.

And this machine is always communicating with us. There is a feedback loop, which comes from the voices of those affected by the system (those who are benefiting from it, as well as those who are not), the increase or decrease of biodiverse forms in the environment, along with the way we feel- mind, body and soul- that is communicating with us whether or not something is working. Most of the time we aren’t slowing down enough to really pay attention to these notifications, or take the time to notice how things are interrelated.

The Holistic Trifecta as a Tool

Thus, we circle back to this idea of Soil, Soul and Society. I like these three because they’re easy to remember. We might say Self, Ecology and Community. You might also prefer Person, Place and People (Oh, I just made that up. I like it!). The point is to remember this triad as a reference however best makes sense to you. We can refer to it when we’re planning our day, thinking about new goals, or planning a new business. Below I give an example of how this might look. In doing so, this practice helps us to broaden our awareness beyond our self to holistically think about who we are in relation to the world around us, so that we can be a healthier piece within our collective human species.

  • Planning our Day:
    • a) What am I doing to take care of myself on a holistic level? What are my most basic needs that will help me to thrive? This might include drinking enough water, stretching, mindfulness breaks, plant based meals, exercise, journaling, or anything else you can think of that makes you the healthiest and happiest version of you.
    • b) How am I interacting with the environment today? Will I spend some time working in the garden? Are there any herbs from my backyard or along the street I might make tea out of or use in a dish? Can I implement a lifestyle change to use less plastic? Can I ride my bike or take public transportation? Can I buy used or local instead of purchasing online? This might also pertain to how much time you spend outside. Can I take a walk today? Is there a hike I could do? Is there an outdoor activity I haven’t tried that would be fun, like snowshoeing or skiing? (winter time is on my mind, obvi).
    • c) How are my relationships today? Who might I connect with today and what relationships do I want to strengthen? Is there a hard conversation I might have? Is there something about my communication style I would like to improve upon so I can better express my truth, or be better at accepting feedback? Can I donate my time to helping someone in need? Am I being kind to strangers? Is there something I can offer today that might uplift someone else? Even if it’s something small! Post something inspirational. Text someone you love them. Surprise someone with something thoughtful.
    • d) To take this further in integrative thinking, it’s also important to consider how these areas interact. Nothing is isolated. Buying local/used saves resources and benefits others, while improving your own life by helping you to develop more relationships with the people and place where you live. We also consider in this way purchasing quality over quantity, which assists us in living with less, with products that hold higher value and are able to last us much longer- saving us money and time. In all of these areas, when you’re consciously working on developing yourself, you are positioning yourself to become a better leader. When you develop qualities of a more efficient leader, you then are a better role model to your community, and in time able to give back more of your knowledge, skills and resources to the people and environment where you live.

Based on the above example, what new goals might you implement to touch on to improve upon personal care, ecological care, or community care? If you are starting a business, how can you design a model that brings you joy and satisfaction, while also really benefiting the environment and your community while you’re at it? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Integrative Personal Coaching

While I’m still offering my normal Integrative Soul Sessions, I am currently altering my offerings to include more personalized sessions specific to your individual needs as you strengthen yourself as a leader in this world (we are ALL leaders). These sessions will expand to include more intentional opportunities to touch on how we participate in greater community life (events, protests, education, general systemic work, etc), as well as the environment (including the lack thereof or apathy that might be associated with these dimensions of life). My work delves into patterning and programming that defines our life, whether or not we’re conscious of it. By isolating specific areas where we would like to grow, but continue to struggle, we can identify the deeper beliefs that keep us from growing and developing into even greater members within our communities. We can also celebrate and strengthen where we are already shining, empowering us to continue on our paths as change makers.

Do you have an area in your life you want to shift? Please reach out! 30 minute consultations are free. In the meantime, I highly suggest the resources mentioned in today’s post!

*Please seek out any books I have referenced at your local book store. At this time we really need to support our local community through keeping our economies strong. I did link these to Amazon, but only so you can access more information on the book to help you track it down. If you find better links for me let me know and I will change them out. Couldn’t find them at the time on Powell’s website.*

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